Design for Border for Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur
Ink over pencil on paper,
Having received little formal art training in his schooldays, Beardsley first taught himself to draw by copying. Even at the beginning of his professional career, which followed one year of evening classes at the Westminster School of Art, the impulse to reproduce what he saw and liked was irresistible, and what he liked were the medievalist designs of Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris—evident from this drawing of entangled leaves, vines, and flowers. The appreciation of talent was mutual in the case of Burne-Jones, who took an avuncular interest in the aspiring artist. It was decidedly not so with William Morris. When the art critic Aymer Vallance (1862–1943) brought Beardsley to meet him, and Beardsley displayed a portfolio of his work, Morris was unimpressed and let his guests know it.
From the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press